Taken at the Flood – William Ramsay
Towards a Strategy for the UK Economy
A question facing the United Kingdom and many
other western democracies centres on the legitimacy
and authority of government over many years. Such
doubt stems from the apparent inability of government
to respond to the genuine and clear aspirations of the
people on whose votes they ultimately rely.
It is no accident that the result of the referendum
on our ongoing membership of the EU coincided
with the election in the United States of America
of a rumbustious larger-than-life character as
president, and in France of an unusual figure leading
an unknown political party, now facing significant
opposition from the so called ‘yellow jackets’. While
Theresa May began her premiership by ruling out
much by way of dialogue over how to exit the EU,
the Catalonians sought independence from the rest
of Spain, the Scots maintained their impetus towards
independence from the UK, and the Christian
Democrats in Germany embarked on their inexorable
decline in the power for so long held under the
redoubtable Angela Merkel.
Economists do tend to talk. George Bernard Shaw famously
wrote that “if all the economists were laid end to end they’d
never reach a conclusion”.
As I began to write this short work I met one or two
colleagues with whom I had worked over the years. The
common threads of our discussions attested to a need to
grow our economy, increase the manufacturing sector and
protect our environment, but without much clarity as to
what projects should be undertaken or how they might be
prioritised or funded. Apart from that, all was clear!
This short work aims to set out what should be done and
how it could be funded, putting the funding requirement in
the context of our finances today emanating from the crash
of 2008. One by-product of a search for some of the right
questions, let alone the answers, is to help inject further
relevance into the debate, and in so doing help to restore the
nation’s faith in the institutions which guide us.
Mark Twain, that mystical American figure, is attributed
with the remark that he would not have written such a long
letter had he had time to write a shorter one. I know what
he means. This work is meant to be applicable to all and
readable by all. There are no anecdotal reminiscences of a
bygone age, no graphs or complex tables, just a few ideas
which will at least garner some discussion and mirth around
Christmas and the New Year.